I’ve been moving a lot…
- Myanmar & Philippines, May 24 – June 9
- Kuala Lumpur, June 19 – 23
- Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival, June 27 – 30
- India, July 11 – 15
Most highlights came from Myanmar. Besides the usual tourist traps, that turned out to be less banal than expected, the people were happy and curious. They were vocal about their newfound patriotism and excited to show off what they had to offer.
Work at school has been promising. I’ve taken on longer projects and competitions in my higher-level classes (public speaking competitions, in-class essays and debates), the prize usually being an off-campus lunch. The lower level classes have not been able to successfully finish a competition, but they seem to be getting bored with simple activities, indicating an interest in something more challenging.
The ball is rolling on two out-of-class projects. The first is a total overhaul of the English books in the school library. I am working with The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program to receive new and used dictionaries, fiction and nonfiction books by late August. The second is advising a uniquely ambitious senior (form 5) student on studying in the U.S. I have not seen enthusiasm like his from any other student. We meet once a week to edit his essays and research scholarships. He is aware of the personal challenges posed by studying abroad, but radiates confidence. Working with him is a highlight.
More than half way done with the grant, however, I’m finding difficulty adapting to Malaysian society. The smallest nuisance (road rage, rampant blackouts, continuous communication problems at work) has become cripplingly vexing. One would think after 6 or 7 months I would be highly acclimated. But, from my experience, that’s a damaging assumption. Patience is starting to slip and the excuse, “it’s just the system here” is becoming less acceptable.
Of course there are a number of contributing factors, most obvious being obstacles from when I first arrived, persisting. The bureaucratic lag has not disappeared. Getting reimbursed for a school expense still takes up to 7 weeks. Organizing an English camp still involves unenthused co-workers. Finding handymen to help with apartment matters still involves going through four different people.
In retrospect these issues will seem superficial, but at the moment, they are all consuming.